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Welcome to my Melbourne food guide, where I share the best Melbourne restaurants and cafes I visited on my return to Melbourne in 2020.
I may be posting this now, but today’s mini Melbourne food guide is obviously more for future reference. These local businesses will need our support more than ever once restrictions are lifted.
During my visit to Melbourne for my birthday at the end of February, I spent my time shopping, wandering around the city, catching up with friends and eating a lot of tasty food. I ate at so many good Melbourne restaurants and cafes that on the plane ride home I start putting together this mini food diary. I hope this Melbourne food guide introduces you to a new favourite restaurant or dessert spot.
My Melbourne food guide
Okay, the first place listed in this Melbourne food guide is Little Brothers. I found this hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Google when I typed in Vietnamese restaurants. With good reviews and affordable dishes, my friend and I decided to give it a go. Little Brothers doesn’t have an extensive menu, but it does serve different banh mi varieties and a few noodle and rice-based main dishes. It also does lunch specials and combo deals.
I went for the vermicelli with roast pork and spring roll, while my friend had pho. My dish wasn’t the biggest, but it was a great size for lunch and the roast pork and crackling were perfectly cooked. While it was busy at lunch, our food was delivered to the table extremely quickly. I also highly recommend heading upstairs to check out the very Instagrammable dining area.
On a different night, another friend and I went here for dinner. One of the most popular restaurants in Melbourne’s Chinatown, it’s always busy and the staff is more focused on being efficient than friendly. But if you looked past that, the menu is huge and the dishes are very reasonably priced. I recommend getting the pumpkin pastries (it sounds weird but they are so good), as well as the prawn and chicken fried dumplings. Shanghai Village also does corkage for $2.50 per person – told you it’s a bargain.
I know this isn’t an exclusive Melbourne option, but I escaped into Max Brenner during an unexpected rain shower and I am so very glad I did. The brownie sundae is so indulgent that you could easily share it with a friend. Featuring ice cream, a pot of melted chocolate and brownie pieces… need I say more? When you want to treat yourself or celebrate your birthday with a chocolate overdose, I recommend heading to Max Brenner.
I had to include Lukumades in this Melbourne food guide as it’s on my list for next time. I was honestly so annoyed that I only remembered my friend mentioning it on Instagram on my last day… after I’d already had brunch 🙄. My love for loukoumades – called the world’s most unique doughnut – began in Athens and it was love at first bite. I mean, fresh dough balls topped with chocolate sauce and ice cream, what more could you want? The answer is nothing, friends.
After dinner at Shanghai Village, my friend and I headed to Brunetti for dessert. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been there before (neither could she). Starting in Carlton in 1985, the family-owned business now has five locations across Melbourne and one in Singapore. The Flinders Lane establishment looks small from the outside, but it’s a massive space serving authentic Italian cuisine, including coffee, gelato, specialty cakes and pasta. Although the pastry cabinet looked very tempting, I naturally went for a scoop of cookies gelato and I was very happy with my choice.
Shanghai Dumpling House
Why yes, I did venture to Chinatown twice in two days. But in my defence, a Melbourne food guide wouldn’t be complete without multiple Chinatown options. Anyway, my friend recommended we head to Shanghai Dumpling House after birthday drinks at the Imperial Hotel. We did want to enjoy the all-you-can-eat dumplings menu, but unfortunately, that wasn’t available (book ahead, guys).
Instead, the five of us chose a selection of dishes and it didn’t take me long to declare that this was my new favourite restaurant in Chinatown. My top picks: pumpkin dumplings, prawn dumplings, soup dumplings and the prawn and egg rice. I think we had eight dishes between five girls (plus wine corkage for $3) and it cost us $80.
Archie’s All Day
My final meal in Melbourne was brunch at Archie’s All Day. Another place I happened to find through Google, apparently I’m late to the party because the cafe was full on this particular casual Friday morning. Note to self: follow my friend’s lead and make a reservation. I chose the fried chicken and waffles dish (pictured below) and it was delicious. The chicken was cooked in a sweet coating, which perfectly complemented the maple syrup and waffles. Meanwhile, my friend had the pancakes and they looked like fluffy clouds.
When I lived in Melbourne I had a food bucket list and one of the listed places was Green Refectory. I seldom visited Brunswick when I lived in Richmond, but it was a quick tram ride from my Melbourne hostel this trip. I headed there for a birthday brunch with another friend and just like Archie’s, it was bustling. There was a constant stream of people coming and going, which doesn’t surprise me.
The food menu is extensive and there’s an overflowing pastry cabinet as well. I chose the breakfast stack, which included potato, halloumi, spinach, bacon, poached egg and tomato relish. As you can imagine, it was delicious and only $12. I also did a make-your-own juice for $5. I couldn’t recommend this place more and I will definitely be back.
Lord of the Fries
If you’re ever in need of a quick snack, Lord of the Fries serves the best chips in Melbourne, hands down. Their entire menu is vegan, but to be honest I’ve only ever tried their onion rings and fries 😂. Lord of the Fries also has several outlets located throughout Melbourne’s CBD.
Finally, I visited the Imperial Hotel’s rooftop bar on a few occasions when I worked at the museum nearby. A comfy space with a good selection of drinks (a.k.a cider on tap), I made a booking for my birthday. We started here before eating all of the dumplings. With Parliament House views, if you’re looking for a casual rooftop bar to check out in Melbourne, I highly recommend the Imperial.
I hope this Melbourne food guide has introduced you to a new restaurant or cafe to try soon.
I can’t believe I fit in all of these treats (minus Lukumades) and delicious meals in one visit 😳. If you’re searching for more Melbourne foodie recommendations, I’ve got you covered. Check out this post for a round-up of my favourite places and my guide to the best places to eat in Richmond, my old neighbourhood. You can also click here for my entire Melbourne archive, which features things like what to do in Melbourne at night and the best free things to do. If you happen to visit any of these places based on my recommendations, I would love if you tagged me over on Instagram.
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